Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Simple Politics, Nuanced Reality

Okay so City Council's Attorney just filed a restraining order to prevent (temporarily) the further dissemination of Council's email records released to lawyer Tracie Washington and the Louisiana Justice Institute.

I've been trying to pry around about this as best I can.

It would appear that the release of the records, via the Mayor's Office of Technology and Sanitation Director Veronica White, was sloppy and in violation of protocol and policy. What's less clear is whether any of this violated actual law.

So they'll argue about it.

Council's attorney Steven Lane broke it down like this:

"Basically what happened here is in December of 2008 Tracie Washington filed a public records request,'' Lane said.

"She sent it over to IT at City Hall and the city attorney. For some reason, and I still don't know why, the report was sent to Veronica White at the Department of Sanitation. Ms. White, who is not an attorney and with no attorney oversight, produced the document to Ms. Washington,'' Lane said.

I don't think that's quite the right narrative. It'll take some additional digging before anyone can say authoritatively how the email records may have circulated amongst the City Attorney Penya Moses-Fields, Sanitation Director Veronica White, various employees at the Office of Technology, and Tracie Washington.

Certainly I have many questions for the mysterious series of tubes comprising the IT dept.


In terms of political optics, you have the white members of Council blocking the release of their email records in the midst of a buzz word transparency campaign that opponents have alleged is racially motivated. Certainly it looks weird for the white members of Council to fight the release of their own emails after weeks of criticizing Ray Nagin for failing to release his.

Obviously the whole story is way way more nuanced than that. But until more comes out, people are probably going to emphasize whichever elements reinforce their base perspective on the larger polarized transparency debate.

And certainly the point could be moot if the lawyers can hurry up and vet the emails for sensitive privileged information and release them to the public. If Council digs in hard, they'll be total hypocrites.


civitch said...

"... people are probably going to emphasize whichever elements reinforce their base perspective on the larger polarized transparency debate."

And therein lies the genius of this appalling, reprehensible strategy.

mominem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mominem said...

Based on public statements it appears no one knows exactly what Tracie Wahington got. I'm not sure it can be effectively recalled.IF Tracie passed on multiple copies who can know where it will end up.

Superdeformed said...

Sloppy IT, plain and simple.